Acts and apparitions

Discourses on the real in performance practice and theory, 1990–2010

Author: Liz Tomlin

This book examines how new performance practices from the 1990s to the present day have been driven by questions of the real and the ensuing political implications of the concept's rapidly disintegrating authority. The first part of the book addresses the existing poststructuralist narrative of radicalism that currently dominates contemporary performance theory, and seeks to deconstruct its conclusions. It first traces the artistic and philosophical developments that laid the ground for the sustained twentieth-century interrogations of theatrical representations of the real. It examines the emergence of the discursive act which aligned the narrative of radicalism exclusively with such interrogations. The book also examines how key strands of Derrida's poststructuralist critique have been applied to performance practice to strengthen the ideological binary opposition between 'dramatic' representations of the real and 'postdramatic' deconstructions of representational practice. The second part of the book embarks on an ideological examination of a wide spectrum of performance models that share an engagement with the problematics of representation and the real. It directs this investigation specifically towards an analysis of the representations of 'real' people in performances which adopt verbatim methodologies drawn from the documentary theatre tradition. The book continues to explore performance environments that break down the dichotomy of performer/spectator and seeks to replace mediated representations with experiential realities.

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